No one likes to fail, but maybe we should. No, I don’t mean we should intentionally look for ways to fail in life. I’m suggesting we need a different perspective on failure. Failure is the price we pay for success. Few people become successful on their first try. Often, it requires a number of failures before we find the key to our success. John Maxwell, in his great book Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success reports that the average for entrepreneurs is 3.8 failures before they finally find success.
Management expert, Peter Drucker, once said that “The better a man is, the more mistakes he will make, for the more new things he will try. I would never promote to a top-level job a man who was not making mistakes . . . otherwise he is sure to be mediocre.” Drucker understood that the only people who never fail are those who never do anything, and those people will never be able to lead others or enjoy good success.
As a young man I was fearful of failure. There would be things I wanted to do but would not even try because I was afraid I would fail. Guess what? I did fail. I failed to do the things I wanted to do because of my fears. That is how a lot of dreams are lost. We dream big dreams but never attempt them due to our fear of failing.
Anyone in a position of leadership will be required to make tough decisions. Some people are so afraid of making the wrong decision they suffer from “analysis paralysis.” They try to make sure they have all the facts before they make a decision. Until they have sufficient information to guarantee a good decision, they won’t make one. The problem is that we will never have all the information we might want, and some of the information we do have will be wrong. In the meantime, the decision doesn’t get made.
Failure is seldom final unless we decide to make it so. Most of the people who failed didn’t really fail; they simply gave up. They quit, sometimes right at the edge of achieving success. A few years ago I was going through a rough time. I was involved in a project that was failing. It seemed like nothing I did made it any better. One of the things I kept reminding myself was “It’s always too early to give up.” Whether it was determination or stupidity on my part, I stayed with the project until I found a way to make it work.
The way we fail forward is to learn something in the process of failing that can be applied later. We can choose whether to learn something from our failures and grow in that process, or we can choose to let failure defeat us. When a small business we owned a few years ago failed I learned a lot of lessons! I now apply those lessons to my current auction business. I even wrote a book describing the lessons I learned hoping that it would help others avoid the mistakes I made that closed the business. That book is Mistakes: Avoiding the Wrong Decisions That Will Close Your Small Business. This eBook is only $4.99. To avoid even one of the mistakes mentioned in the book will save you far more than the cost of the book.
Life is made up of many choices. One choice each of us have to make is how to handle the failures that come into our lives. If you’re wise, you will embrace those failures and learn from them. It’s the only way to achieve the level of success you want.